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Uranium gives the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) a glow

Uranium and gold miners led the way on Monday on the Australian share market, but slumping lithium producers tempered that enthusiasm, as did the big bulk miners.

Weaker iron ore prices saw BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) shed 53 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $47.18, while Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) lost 83 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $128.32, and Fortescue Ltd (ASX: FMG) eased 13 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $27.24.

BHP Group share price

But uranium is a very different story, as the spot price climbed to just over US$103 a pound, a level not seen since 2007. Uranium gained about 90 per cent in 2023, as the market struggled to keep up with fresh demand, and it is still rising in 2024. The Biden Administration’s announcement last week of a US$500 million ($746 million) program to boost the domestic industry has only added fuel to that fire; as has the warning from Joint Stock Company National Atomic GDR (FRA: 0ZQ), the world’s biggest uranium miner, that it is likely to fall short of its production targets.

Forgive the pun, but the sector went nuclear on the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO). Energy Resources Of Australia Ltd (ASX: ERA), which is rehabilitating the old Ranger Mine in the Northern Territory, rocketed 1.5 cents, or 34.1 per cent, to 5.9 cents; Peninsula Energy Ltd (ASX: PEN), which owns the Lance uranium project in Wyoming, USA, spiked 2.5 cents, or 23.8 per cent, to 13 cents; Deep Yellow Limited (ASX: DYL), which has uranium-rich properties in Namibia and Australia, jumped 15.5 cents, or 11.6 per cent, to $1.495; Boss Energy Ltd (ASX: BOE), which is re-starting the Honeymoon uranium mine in South Australia, surged 49 cents, or 9.6 per cent, to $5.58; and Namibia-based producer Paladin Energy Ltd (ASX: PDN) advanced 9 cents, or 7.5 per cent, to $1.295.

Energy Resources Of Australia share price

Once-hot lithium sector cools further

However, it was a different story in lithium, where Arcadium Lithium CDI (ASX: LTM) [the merged Allkem Ltd (ASX: AKE) and Arcadium Lithium Ord Shs (NYSE: ALTM)] lost 52 cents, or 5.8 per cent, to $8.40; fellow producer Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) dropped 18 cents, or 4.8 per cent, to $3.56; project developer Liontown Resources Ltd (ASX: LTR) lost 6.5 cents, or 4.4 per cent, to $1.42; and fellow developer Lake Resources N.L. (ASX: LKE) gave up another half-cent, or 4.4 per cent, to 11 cents.

Allkem share price

In coal, Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) strengthened 16 cents, or 2 per cent, to $8.13; New Hope Corporation Ltd (ASX: NHC) was up 7 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $5.38; and Stanmore Resources Ltd (ASX: SMR) moved 17 cents, or 4.3 per cent, higher to $4.10; but Coronado Global Resources Inc (ASX: CRN) eased 2 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $1.725.

In oil and gas, Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) added 28 cents, or 3.7 per cent, to $7.83, after the energy giant’s $5.8 billion gas project off the Northern Territory coast got the green light from a Federal Court ruling. Elsewhere, Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS) appropriated 34 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $31.63; Beach Energy Ltd (ASX: BPT) gained 3 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $1.605; but Brazilian-based producer Karoon Energy Ltd (ASX: KAR) slipped 5.5 cents, or 2.8 per cent, to $1.905.

Among the industrials, retailer Super Retail Group Ltd (ASX: SUL), the owner of Rebel and Supercheap Auto among others, was in demand after a positive trading update, gaining 90 cents, or 5.7 per cent, to $16.71. There was also strong support for electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH), which advanced $2.02, or 3.5 per cent, to $59.88; and Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV), owner of Peter Alexander and Smiggle among others, which climbed $1.08, or 4 per cent, to $27.80.

In big-bank world, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) put on 3 cents to $113.66; National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) added 4 cents to $30.95; ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: ANZ) gained 5 cents to $25.95; and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) lifted 10 cents, to $23.29, up 0.4 per cent.

Biotech heavyweight Csl LTD (ASX: CSL) lost $1.23, or 0.4 per cent, to $289.17, while Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) eased 24 cents, or 4.4 per cent to $5.17. The airline is being sued (again) by its workforce, with allegations that it underpaid aircraft engineers in the US as much as $US10 million ($14.9 million).

CSL share price

Nikkei rises from the ashes

The US share market was closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Junior Day holiday.

European stocks were mostly weaker overnight, but the big story of the year so far is the long-suffering Nikkei 225 (INDEXNIKKEI: NI225) index in Tokyo, which has surged into the new year. The Nikkei has gained more than 5 per cent already in 2024 and has reached its highest level in 34 years. At 35,901.8 yen, the Japanese gauge is now just 8 per cent short of its 1989 peak of 38,957, and clear air is closer than it has been for a very long time.

Gold gained US$7.44, or 0.4 per cent, overnight to US$2,054.76 an ounce. The global benchmark Brent crude oil grade rose 40 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to US$78.69 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate oil softened 18 cents, or 0.3 per cent, to US$72.50 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying 66.59 US cents this morning, down from 66.87 US cents at the ASX close on Monday.

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